tv Meet the Press NBC September 5, 2010 7:00am-8:00am PST
>> this sunday, labor day weekend and the official kickoff to this fall's midterm campaign. can the white house and democrats do anything to improve the economy before november? what are the costs and the benefits of america's long wars in iraq and afghanistan? my news maker guest this morning, republican senator from south carolina, lindsey graham. and david plouffe, the man behind barack obama's successful run for the white house and author of the "the audacity to win" book. and then it's our political roundtable weighing in on the hottest races of the fall campaign. how bad will it be for the
democrats? is the party's hold on both the house and senate in jeopardy? with us, charlie cook, editor of "the cook political report," erin burnett, anchor of msnbc's "street signs" and e.j. dionne from "the washington post" and rich lowry, editor of "national review." captions paid for by nbc-universal television good morning. president obama will spend next week talking up his proposals to improve the economy and lower the 9.6 jobless rate. "the new york times" reporting this morning that on wednesday in cleveland he will ask congress to extend a corporate tax credit for research and development. with the election season officially under way this labor day, the president must convince voters that democrats will offer the best prescription for turning the economy around and creating jobs. with us now from his home state of south carolina, republican
senator lindsey graham. senator, welcome back to "meet the press." >> thank you. good morning. >> i want to start on the economy. the president reacting to the latest jobs numbers in the rose garden on friday offered this assessment of where things stand. let's show that. >> the key point i'm making right now is that the economy is moving in a positive direction. jobs are being created. they're just not being created as fast as they need to given the big hole that we experience and we'll have to continue to work with republicans and democrats to come up with ideas that can further accelerate that job growth. >> senator, what more should be done and would you support what the president appears to be talking about which is an extension of that rnd tax credit for corporations. >> yes, i would we need to extend all of the tax cuts. now is not the time to raise taxes. the president said that he wants to increase taxes to 49.6.
the top rate and let some of the bush tax cuts expire. let's look at the health care bill but centerpiece for the democratic agenda for the first two years has been the health care bill and not one candidate on the campaign trail is talking about it. the stimulus bill that was supposed to keep us at 8% or less in unemployment has been a disaster. let's go into the stimulus bill and cancel the big government spending programs in the stimulus bill and look at health care and get it off the public back and extend all of the tax cuts. >> we're talking about tax cuts in a moment. you talk about the health care bill. should republicans be out there talking about a repeal of health care in this campaign season? >> yes, they should be talking about replacing the health care bill. it's going to he'd to government monopoly in health care and bend the cost curve up and not down and it will make it hard foreprivafor private sector people to offer
to employees. the key to this is that no democrat is talking about health care bill. no democrat is talking about the stimulus bill. you know, president obama ran in the center as a centrist. he turned his agenda to liberals in the house and here we are a few months before the election and it has caught up with him. >> republicans are concerned about the deficit and overall spending picture in washington as republican leaders say they are. when you talk about extending the bush tax cuts, yes, it's existing tax policy but is there a responsibility for republicans to say if you want to extend all of the cuts that somehow you have to pay for what the impact will be going forward beyond the e expiration date? >> we spend too much. i would extend the tax cuts to create private sector jobs. if you increase taxes now at any
level, it is going to make it harder to create jobs be and we lost 2.5 million jobs since the stimulus package passed. 9.6 unemployment. we don't tax too little. we spend too much. >> is there room on tax cuts? if he extends the tax cuts for a period of a couple of years would that be able to attract republican support? >> it might. there is room to compromise on the death tax. in january it goes back to 55% and at the end of this year it's at zero. maybe you could find a way to compromise on the death tax to have something below 55%. $5 or $6 million exemption for american families that would prevent devastation to small business and family farms. the idea of increasing taxes now makes no sense to most people. the president and his democratic colleagues have increased the
deficit and the role of federal government. everything has been so partisan. there was a bipartisan bill on health care. that was rejected. senator mccain had a $450 billion stimulus bill. we didn't go down any of these compromise roads. just big government and more spending and democrats don't have a whole lot to talk about going into november other than more debt and more government. >> let's talk about november and let's talk about the political landscape. do you think there's irrational exuberance among republicans who think they'll take over the house and perhaps the senate or do you think the democratic control is indeed in jeopardy? >> i think if we voted tomorrow we would do very well. the truth of the matter is that most of this is a rejection of a democratic agenda that did not meet the expectations that president obama created about a new way of doing business. the health care bill not only is
month rosty. the way it was passed was sleazy. we need to bring checks and balances and tell the american people if we get back in control we'll check this obama agenda that has no limits and bring about balance by controlling spending and relooking at the health care bill and trying to be fiscally responsible. a lot of this has to do with people saying no to democrats and not saying yes to republicans. >> do you think democratic control is in jeopardy in the fall? >> yes. i think if the election were held tomorrow it would be. there's a couple months to go and at the end of the day i don't know what their agenda is going to be between now and november. what they've done in the past no one seems to like. the health care bill is not being talked about by any democrat. the stimulus bill has been an absolute flop. i don't know what they do between now and november other than run against us. >> you talk about the ways of washington. do you think anyone will look at washington and absolve
republicans for opposing just about everything the president proposed? >> there was a better way. there was a bipartisan approach to health care that was rejected. there was a $450 billion stimulus package that cut taxes and helped the unemployed and did infrastructure projects. they rejected this approach and went hard to the left and have nothing to show for their efforts but bigger government and more debt. theres was a better way. they chose not to go that way. now they own this agenda that i think has been the most liberal agenda in modern times and at the end of the day the public is not in the left ditch. they're not in the right ditch. they're in the right center of the road and the only way the president can possibly survive is come back to the middle. he's tone deaf. putting ksm on trial in new york city made no sense. interjecting himself into the mosque debate made no sense. >> let me ask you about troubles within the republican party. 46% negative rating right now.
hardly a sweeping mandate for power. you said this to "the new york times" magazine back in july in terms of the state of the republican party, i'll put it up on the screen. in a previous conversation the magazine reports graham said the problem with the tea party, a big force in the party right now, it's unsustainable because they can never come up with a coherent vision for governing the country. it will die out. now he said in a tone of casual ameant, we don't have a lot of regan type leaders in our party. i want a republican that can attract democrats. he added ronald reagan would have a hard time getting elected as a republican today. is this a republican party prepared to lead and not just oppose? >> i think so. we can unite with our tea party friends. we can offer a constitutional amendment to balance the budget that would make both parties have to get their fiscal house
in order. there's a lot of things we can do on health care that would expand coverage and limit the government -- not have this government monopoly. i think with the tea party, independent groups, we can come up with a fiscally sound agenda and try to help the president on foreign policy matters where we can. >> you try to position yourself as a maverick within the party. you talk about ronald reagan not being able to get elected at this point. the tea partiers have called you a republican in name only. do you think the republicans have some work to do before they can reach majority status? >> well, i think what we have to do is come up with a uniting agen agenda. a contract with america. what would we do different on spending? i support the line item veto. i would give president obama the line item veto. let's look at the health care bill. let's replace it with something that expands coverage in the private sector. let's look at the stimulus bill that doubled the department of education's budget and redo the stimulus bill to create jobs. there's a lot of things we can
do to balance out what obama has done and going forward show the american people the republican party can govern. i want a coalition of tea party people, independents, moderates, democrats, trying to find a way to move this country forward before we become greece. >> senator, i want to conclude by asking you a question about iraq and afghanistan. the president, of course, ended "operation iraqi freedom" with an oval office address addressing the nation on that point on the end of the war. our own chief correspondent richard engel who covered the war throughout and the war in afghanistan as well offered analysis during an appearance with ann curry on the "today" show about the legacy of the iraq and afghanistan wars. i would like to you his and react to it. >> if there was no vision, saddam would still be in power. he was probably getting more moderate. he was being welcomed in by a lot of european countries in eastern europe in particular. he was heading in a direction of
accommodation. the sanction regime holding him in place was starting to fail. i think it would be somewhat of a basket case but it would be -- iran would be more contained. it would be a dictatorship that was trying to break out of its box but iran would not be as dangerous as it is today. >> had the united states not invaded iraq, would we be done in afghanistan? >> probably. that was a giant distraction. that war would probably be over. >> senator, what do you say? >> completely rewriting history. our planes were being shot at in the no-fly zones. saddam hussein was violating every u.n. resolution to account for his weapons program. he was openly defying the international community when it came to controlling iraq. he was not becoming a good citizen. he was becoming a more dangerous dictator. the world is better with him dead. if we can get a government
together soon in iraq and it becomes stable and secure, we'll have a democracy between iran and syria. iran's biggest nightmare is to have a neighbor on their border that practices democracy. the men and women have died have done the country great service. >> even our current defense secretary who is a republican says iraq will be clouded by how it began. three-quarters of the american people think it was not worth the cost. >> i can tell you that we'll be safer. history will judge us not by what we did wrong at the beginning but what we got right at the end. if we get the government stable and president obama is now his job to finish out iraq, if it finishes out well and becomes secure and stable allied with us on the war and terror, this is where al qaeda was beat by fellow muslims. i can't underestimate how important that was. al qaeda went into iraq to topple our efforts to bring about stability and
representative government and they were beaten by muslims with our help. that's a huge win on the war on terror. afghanistan -- we're getting things better. we got a long ways to go. i'm glad we did what we did in iraq. america will be safer and history will record this as a big event in the mid east with a dictatorship was replaced with democracy in the heart of the arab world. >> do you believe the president's withdrawal time line can be met? >> i think it's wrong for the president to say we're going to withdrawal next summer no matter what. i believe with surge forces some areas of afghanistan are going to be able to transition safely but the president's insistence that we'll withdrawal no matter what the conditions are -- >> that's not accurate. he said it will be conditions based. >> here's what he said. we're going to withdrawal no matter what. how quickly we withdrawal is conditions based. that's different than saying
we'll evaluate next summer and make the best decision. i do see a pathway for it for some limited withdrawal but the president has announced to the world we're going to begin to leave next summer. the only thing in question is how quick. that's a different way of approaching it. i would rather say our goal is to transition next summer. we'll see what conditions are. at the end of the day his statements hurt. there is progress in afghanistan. the surge is beginning to show benefits in their security. the corruption issue looms large in afghanistan. it's as big an enemy to the afghan people as the taliban and we must be able to fight corruption as effectively as the taliban. that's a work in progress. >> senator graham, we'll leave it there. thank you as always for being here. >> thank you. extend the bush cuts. >> joining us with a view from the other side, we turn to the the man who was in charge of getting barack obama elected president. his 2008 campaign manager and author of the newly updated paperback version of his book,
"the audacity to win," how obama won and how we can beat the party of limbaugh back and palin. david plouffe. welcome back to "meet the press." i want to start on the economy and domestic affairs and we'll touch on the war. this president and his party are running on an economic record. here is that record in a nutshell. it's not a good one. 9.6% unemployed rate. an estimated 3 million property foreclosures this year. we cannot forget the depth of the housing crisis. after 19 months in office, president obama is accountable for this record, is he not? >> sure he is. we're less than 60 days out from an election and elections are about choices. let's remember where we were. the republican party that wants to gain back control, their policies contributed to the worst economic crisis this country has seen since the great depression. if they had their way, we may have headed to a depression
opposing the recovery act. no one is satisfied where we are. the question is are we making progress? we had 22 months straight of private sector job loss. we're on the right path here. the question to the american people is the republican experiment is a recent one. fiscal irresponsibility, unprecedented assault on middle class and small businesses. the guy who is in charge of the republican campaign committee was on your show about six weeks ago. he said if they won back the majority what they were going to pursue is the same policies they had done previously which led to this economic -- >> rather than running on a record when this president had big swings legislatively at the economy that you are left basically saying we may not have done the job but the other guys are worse. >> no one is saying we're not doing the job. we're proud of what we're done. this whole was so deep.
it's going to take time to dig out. we're on the right path here. economic policies aimed at the middle class and small businesses creating a new energy sector. the health care law over time will play a big impact in economic growth. we're proud to talk about what we've done. >> 82% of americans polled believe that the country is still in recession. >> people are struggling. no one is suggesting otherwise. >> they don't believe what you say which is that we're on the right path. >> when people are struggling, they don't have a job, their family member doesn't have a job, they haven't got a raise, they have a right to be frustrated. the question we have to put in front of people in the next two months is this is a choice. the republican ideas were rejected at the ballot box the last two years and rejected by the american people. they are offering nothing new. the same policies that led this country -- senator graham was talking about the left ditch and right ditch. they drove us into the ditch. if we give the keys back to the people who did this, it would be
like giving the keys to herbert hoover in the 1930s. >> with midterm elections nine weeks off instead of generation transformation some democrats e predicted after '08, people say they will vote for republicans over democrats in congress. the largest such gap ever recorded by gala. how did it get so bad? >> first of all, when you have a tough economy and you are in power, you're going to have a tough political environment. secondly, we won so many elections in 2006 and 2008. even in the neutral electoral environment it was clear we will get some of that back. over the next two months we have to do two things. get more democrats enthused about voting and laying out stakes of this election and real choice. and secondly for those undecided voters out there, make them understand this is not the new republican party.
it's the same old ideas. the same old adherence to special interest. speaker boehner talked about all of the reforms he's going to bring. give me a break. this is the party that tried to change the rules to allow their majority leader to serve if he was indicted. john boehner who would be the speaker of the house years ago was handing out checks from tobacco companies on the house floor. and is now up on wall street saying give us money because we're protecting you by opposing things like financial reform. so the movie was a nightmare for america. it's a recent experiment. we have to make sure everybody out there who is undecided and just as importantly those democrats who weren't threat to vote for republican but are saying i'm not sure we're going to vote. we have to talk to them and make sure they understand the stakes here. >> one thing you said in january of 2009 was that bipartisan was so important. this is what you told "the washington post" at the time. one thing i'm sure of there won't be a democratic solution to the economy or democratic health care plan or democratic energy plan. it has to be an american plan and effort.
if that happens i think we can make progress. the reality is they have all been democratic plans. you have not had bipartisanship and lost tremendous ground with 60% disapproval among independent voters. isn't that the problem you warned us? >> we did get some republican support for things like the recovery act for financial reform. on health care that's right. the votes may have been democratic but there were so many republican ideas in there. this is another argument for the election. the republicans opposition with the president and what the party has tried to do is less grounded in principle than it is in politics. this country has deep challenges and opportunities and rather than participate in moving this country forward, the republicans are playing short-term politics. and we're going to have a tough election this november. it can be better than people think but the long-term damage the republican party is doing to itself is profound. >> is democratic control of the house and the senate in
jeopardy? >> what i would say is i think right now -- this is going to be elections between two people in a state and in some cases three people where there's tea party third party candidates but in states and districts. if you look at that, the senate they would have to run the table. i don't see evidence of that we have people running strong campaigns. we've won a lot of special elections in the house because our house candidates are running great localized campaigns, focusing on turnout and making that a choice between two individuals. this is a turbulent political environment. we have big majorities. we'll give some of that back. i think we maintain control in both chambers if we make this a choice between two people in districts and states and we have to make sure democratic turnout jumps up. right now the republicans are coming out at a very high level. we shouldn't expect that to abate. >> isn't part of what you're getting at is you have to shift the mindset of voters to the shortcomings of their opponents because if it is a referendum on the president and his leadership, you come up short.
>> elections are choices. we're happy to talk about, you know, the recovery act and what it meant, the jobs and businesses that have sprouted up all over america and the new energy economy, combat operations in iraq coming to a close, all of the health care assistia assistance that seniors will get. >> is the president's leadership being tested here? >> voters are saying i have two people running for the senate or house and we'll evaluate positions and views of both of those people. we as democrats have to make this a choice. the republicans need to be on trial here too. we are proud of what we've done. this is leadership. these were not normal times. we were facing unprecedented economic crisis and issues like health care, energy, education that leadership in this town refused to deal with for decades. >> democrats are in power. one of the things that got you to the white house was the strength of independents support. independent voters are now
disapproving the president's performance at 60% of margin. you made the point that everybody out there in america is making adjustments in their lives. washington doesn't seem to be making any adjustments in the way they are spending money or running the government. that has to lay at the door mat of the president and democrats. >> most voters out there think when asked who is really trying to reach out to the other side, who is trying to bring more of a spirit of debate and bipartisanship, the president is trying to. secondly on spending, the president has done tough things on spending. being honest about the spending for the first time in a long time. republicans are lecturing us about fiscal discipline but it was their policies and their fiscal positions that led us to this position. first of all we should not take lectures from them. on tax cuts what senator graham just talked about they want to extend them for ten years without paying for them. when president clinton left office, we had a surplus. we had a record deficit over
$1.3 trillion when president obama took office. why? because republicans had unpaid for wars, tax cuts a. >> let's talk about tax cuts for a moment. mark zandi, an economist who has advised republicans and democrats wrote this in "the new york times" about the tax cuts we can approve. middle ground would be to forestall tax increases in 2011. in other words, don't raise any taxes right now. extend all of the bush era tax cuts. why isn't that a good idea? there are a lot of democrats by the way lining up behind that very position. >> what congressional republicans are proposing is permanent extension of tax cuts for wealthy. 80% of the people who get those tax cuts are millionaire. in a recession i understand those who say maybe for a year we should consider this. my view would be and i'm not an economist and i'm not
involved -- if we're going borrow money from the chinese to give further tax cuts, it ought not go to millionaires. we ought to do more for small business. what the president is proposing is permanent extensions for tax cuts for the middle class. a small business plan in front of the united states senate that would provide huge tax relief, incentive for lending and incentive for expansion. >> will the president entertain the idea of extending the tax cuts for a period of two years? >> i don't no what his final position is going to be. what he's been pretty clear on is the middle class and small businesses ought to be the target of our tax relief. that those at the very top -- again, we're not talking about the mom and pop small business person. we're talking about 80% of the people the republicans want to give permanent tax credit to are millionaires without paying for them. so this is a very important issue. we won the tax debate with john mccain in 2008 because the american people believed that we wanted to cut taxes for them and not the big corporate interests and not millionaires in this
country. >> i'm curious when we target economic recovery and the political scene. former president clinton is campaigning. he said a year and a half just wasn't enough time to get us out of the hole we're in. i want you to stick with us. give us two more years. two more years until another election. if we fail, you can throw us all out. does president obama see it that way? he has one term to turn this thing around? >> he views it from the pris m of the country was in an enormous hole. we had to do everything we could do dig out of that and we ignored long-term challenges of health care, energy, economy, education reform. and that's how he views it. if you make decisions based on politics, you will do the country a big disservice. >> do you envision a primary challenge from another democrat in 2012 against this president? >> i can't imagine that. we've got one election in front
of us. it seems like the last one just ended. >> given who made that statement, can you rule out based on actual information that secretary of state clinton would not pursue the presidency again and would not challenge president obama? >> you saw this week they're working so well together. working on middle east peace and it's a wonderful partnership. i think that was a really inspired choice by the president and secretary of state clinton is doing a remarkable job. >> is that yes, no or maybe? >> they're a team and a great team for america. >> i want to talk more generally about the economy. christina roamer, the president's top economic adviser leaving the white house saying there should be additional stimulus as she was leaving. tax breaks but additional infrastructure spending. does the president think in retrospect that he did too little to jump-start the economy? >> i don't think so. you mentioned at the top of your show the president will unveil more proposals this week to help the economy and they'll look at everything they can because this
is a crisis out there for the american people. no. it's very clear. economists who looked a the this said this recovery act added over 3 million jobs. 22 straight months of private sector job loss. recovery played a big role. we would have been unemployment rate probably in the high teens. some economists say over 20%. by the way, the recovery act that republicans are attacking, if they had their way, we wouldn't have done anything like that. we probably would have unemployment rate if republican ideas and policies had been in place that drove us into this economic climate in the first place, we would sit here with unemployment almost double what it is with no positive growth, no glimmers coming out of this. big choice. i think that history will show that the recovery act, the help for financial sector and auto industry -- by the way, all these things would be tough politics. this wasn't the -- the country
was in crisis. the president and a lot of people in his party knew they were going to take tough political positions to try and move the country forward and stave off another great depression and they did that. we should be proud of them. >> is president obama the campaigner in chief in this season or is he a liability as an asset? >> first of all, he's president. he'll be out there making his case about how he sees this election and stakes in the elections. we can't afford to go back. which is the question here. again, no one is completely satisfied with where we are in the moment. will we continue on a path of forward progress or go bac i think he'll make that case out there. obviously he has a lot of other duties. >> a quote from your book handicapping the republican feel. this is what you write in a new part of "the audacity to win." this is the republican party of 2010 and i think it will be the republican party for a long time. hard to see how a republican gets the presidential nomination without winning the palin limbaugh base of the republican party without a drastic change in orientation they will probably nominate someone a good
bit out of the mainstream. who do you have in mind? who is the most formidable republican likely to challenge president obama? >> i have no idea. i think some of the people we think will run may not run and other people will run. i wish i could sit back and enjoy it. it will be an adventure. >> who is the leader of the republican party right now? >> i think that rush limbaugh, glenn beck, sarah palin, they are the leaders of the party. and you see whenever -- i was struck by the senator from oklahoma who said i don't agree with anything the democrats are doing and i don't agree with speaker pelosi but she's a nice person and got attacked for that. there is an intolerance in that party and extremism that is where the real energy is so i think as you see in '11 and '12 these people will come out to vote.
i think that's where the real energy is and i think particularly in elections where more people vote in presidential elections where you have more younger people and minorities and independent voters who skew a little bit more modete, that will be a big problem. we'll have to wait and see. let's get through this election first and then we'll be to the next one. >> will you run the re-election campaign for the president? >> i don't know. we're not focused on that. he's very focused on trying to do the right things for the country. there will be a time for politics and those that feel strongly in his leadership will do all we can to help him. >> we'll be watching. david plouffe, thank you very much. the hottest races across the nation in this fall midterm campaign. can the democrats hold onto both the house and senate or is a gop takeover in the cards? charlie cook from "the cook political report," msnbc's erin burnett, e.j. dionne of "the washington post" and rich lowry from "national review." ♪
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dionne from "the washington post," charlie cook from "the cook political report" and erin burnett. welcome. you heard senator graham say he could support the president with a tax credit for corporation. is this what the business community wants to hear more from the administration? >> they do. that tax credit is very popular. likely to go through. it has a big price tag to it. they like it. they of course want to hear more. some of them along the lines of we can create more jobs if we have more tax breaks for business. it looks like the research credit is something that will be popular and get support on both sides of the aisle for that but that's as far as he'll go. >> big picture, the president maintains in response to the job numbers, we're going in the right direction here. we're part of the solution and not part of the problem. but as i suggested to david plouffe, there's an economic record there that's tough to run on. >> very tough to run on. he's right. i call it the tortoise economy. the economy is growing. numbers are coming out.
after this recession our recovery started more quickly be than any other recession in the past 25 years. it's accurate to say we're growing and growing in the right direction. politically how do you spin a 9.6% unemployment rate to have it be positive. it's hard it to see how they'll make that case. >> are republicans going to give this president anything on taxes? any victory before november even if on paper it makes sense as something they would want. >> this time of year everything is political. this research and development credit, businesses and corporations love it. it's been around since 1981 or something. it's not a new initiative. it won't make a big difference in the economy and that's the problem the administration has had since the stimulus which is clearly a failure. everything since then has been $20 billion, $30 billion here. that doesn't make a difference in a $14 trillion economy. >> e.j.? the economy and taxes and where things stand? >> i think the administration is in a position where it should
pick a big fight with the republicans. i at least half agree with what rich just said. they are clearly down in this election. if the election were held now, they would probably lose the house but not the senate. i think they can crawl back enough to hold onto the house. i think they should pick a big fight on the renewal of the bush tax cuts and say we want to renew them for everyone earning under $250,000 a year. maybe everyone under a million dollars a year. draw a line and say we want to give them tax cuts now. they want to fight for millionaires. you can have that fight. i think they can win it. they need to shake up this race to salvage some of the seats they need to hang onto. >> rich, i pressed republicans on the point of you want to cut the deficit. it will cost $3 trillion to extend these tax cuts. how do you pay for it. republicans say to me, that argument is off base here. it's existing tax policy. you shouldn't be making that
argument. >> there are a couple things. e.j.'s political advice is wrong although i appreciate him half agreeing with me. that's all you get. before august, before congress left for august recess, you had three senate democrats saying we need to extend these things and now before this awful last month democrats suffered, i think it got harder if not impossible not to extend all of these. i expect the obama administration either to say let's do it for one year or pun it to the lame deck session. if they extend it for one year, that's an amazing sign with large democratic majorities in the senate and house extending bush tax cuts, huge sign of the way the worm has turned politically. >> the idea is to put on the table one of the things do you with money you save by not giving tax cut to people earning over $1 million, is redistribute that to the people down a million or create an
infrastructure bank to build for the long-term. you need to look like you are drawing a clear line with republicans. >> instead of sucking money out of the short-term for the long-term in the economy. raising taxes, there's no theory that that makes sense. >> we can come back to this. all of our effort in terms of our graphics have been for you, mr. cook. we want to look at the landscape as we kick off this election season. here's the big picture. you see here 19 seats in the senate that could turn over. 13 held by democrats. six by republicans. you see that on our graphic. let's look at some of the tight races. open seats, republican seats, in florida and kentucky. florida, very interesting race. former house speaker mark arubio, kendrick meek and charlie crist. we hoped to have that senate debate. marco rubio's father sadly
passed away. that's a tightly fought contest. in kentucky, you have rand paul, the tea party candidate and attorney general jack conway. rand paul away head here in a poll out this morning. what do you see? >> republicans have to almost run the table. the thing about it is that's pretty common in three of the last six elections one party has won over 80% of the final tossup races that are out there so there's a cascading effect that tends to happen. florida, you called it interesting. i call it bizarre. early on democrats thought we get two bites at the apple. democratic nominee and then we'll have charlie crist who turned away from the republican party. instead what you've got is marco arubio, the republican, consolidated the right of center vote to you have two candidates, a former republican, and a real democrat that are splitting the nonconservative vote and i think it gives an edge to arubio.
>> these are incumbents that could lose. senator box we are a tough fight on her hands. in washington state, patty murray defending against dino rossi. he has a better environment this year. wisconsin, russ feingold is defending. he's got a primary september 14th. ron johnson looks to be the most republican to win that race and of course nevada senate majority leader harry reid trying to hold off sharron angle. what strikes but these races? >> this is a class of democratic incumbents that never had a really, really difficult year. and they live charmed lives. take barbara boxer for example. she's always won by being a liberal. that fits california very well.
in a really, really tough economy, she's having a hard time sort of pivoting away from that traditional democratic message. russ feingold, his opponent was unknown in wisconsin three or four months ago. he's a self-funder. he's never run for anything before. he doesn't have a baggage of legislative voting record or anything like that. democrats are having a hard time getting a grip on him and tearing him down because he doesn't have a record. >> the president goes to milwaukee to talk about the economy tomorrow. who won't be there? russ feingold. asset or liability? how does obama work on the campaign trail this year? >> obama is both. that's the tricky thing for democrats. on one hand they really need obama to get turnout among the democratic base. among those voters that came in for the first time in 2008 to vote to him but are looking like they won't vote this time particularly younger voters, african-american voters, so that's on one side. on the other side, obama ignites
the republican base and so i think you're going to see them using obama in an interesting way where he is going -- they are going to use him to raise money and turn out the base but candidates will pull away from him when they have to. democrats have used this strategy before. when they won the special election, the congressman from pennsylvania, very conservative district, they were happy to pull him away from president obama and speaker pelosi if that's what it took to win. >> the populist streak running through the country and who owns that populist anger. you talk about how candidates are positioning themselves. here is congressman joe donnalley. he's in indiana running for re-election. he won in '08. this ad is an immigration but tells an interesting story. >> i went down to the border and saw for myself just how bad the situation really is. that's why i voted to hire 5,300
more border agents and penalize a business that hires illegals. no one should ever be rewarded for breaking the law. that may not be what the washington crowd wants but i don't work for them. i work for you. >> here is a democrat running against the washington crowd. all of them democrats. but it goes to this point about the economy as well and populist anger which is the idea that the criticism that president obama seeded that ground to the republicans, to the tea party and he has people out there, congressmen saying i'm for you. i'm not with the guys in washington. >> it's amazing. you wouldn't know necessarily what party that ad came from unless you clarified it. he has seeded it. every time he's trying now it was what i was be handed by bush. there's this let's go back and blame that. to me he can't win on tax ruoun right now. he needs to take a third way and
come up with american exceptionalism and talk about this is the place that immigrants in the world want to come. number one destination. richest and best country in the world. he needs to take that positive way of looking at it. that's what he's good at. that's rhetoric and vision. >> what's the bottom line? how did the president and democrats get to this point? is it a bad economy? case closed or is there a leadership can hquestion, a fai of leadership? >> democrats needed three things to happen this year. they needed unemployment to turn around. when you look at the groups that were sort of the booster that pushed them over the top, among african-americans the unemployment rate is 16.3. way more than it was when the president took office. hispanic, 12. young people, 26. the job market for recent college graduates, the worst in 35 years. he needed unemployment to turn around. number two, he needed attitude toward health care reform to change. that hasn't happened. they had to get control of the
agenda. they are paying a price for having focused so thoroughly on health care for a solid year at a time when the economy was deteriorating and for a lot of voters they just see the president and democrats as having checked the box on stimulus and then gone to cap and trade and health care leaving the economy. >> how about the question of the economy rules everything or question of leadership, e.j.? >> first of all, it's interesting that john boehner, the republican leader, was also in that picture. there are republicans who are unpopular. that's going to be something democrats want to play. i think the biggest mistake obama made was in not making a big argument from the beginning. here's where we started. here's where we're going. it's going to be rough getting there but if you stick with me, this will get better. fdr did that. ronald reagan did that. >> trust in government was different when fdr did it. >> he needed to restore trust in government and was in a position to do that. and emphasize the way they are reforming government which they
are but nobody knows that. >> have republicans done anything to really regain trust about their leadership? >> mostly a free gift from obama fundamentally fumbling this. i disagree with e.j. again. i'll half agree at some point with you to be a good colleague on the set but people know what obama is about. they know what the program is. they know he's growing government because he thinks that's good for the economy and the country's future. the problem is three fold. they had a mandate from heaven to do what they want bed but th were getting an opportunity because they were recoiling from the republicans and the economy and then there was opportunism, a crisis -- never let a crisis go to waste. do health care. do cap and trade. things that have nothing to do with the economy or may actually be harmful to it and there's the fact that the program has not worked on its own terms.
the stimulus has not worked. you add all three of those things up and you have a grim picture and another huge problem, independent are much closer to the tea partiers on the big issues and even on the smaller hot button ones. spending, debt, ground zero mosque, all of that. >> the big question on unemployment in 30 seconds when is there a meaningful dent in the unemployment rate? >> i don't think the stimulus has been a failure. i think that you are correct that it is perceived that way but i don't think it's true. without that stimulus we would be significantly worse off than we are right now. no question about it. ask any economist on wall street or ceo. i know you disagree but my reporting would show otherwise. i think the problem is you have the fastest job creation in this recovery than you have in any recession in 25 years. but it is still not enough. you aren't going win this on jobs. that's the problem. it's going to take a long time.
i don't know how you get around that problem but technically speaking this recovery has not been tepid. >> we'll leave it there. an exciting next couple months on the campaign trail. we'll follow it week in and week out right here. we'll be right back. to what they need,s when they need it. ♪ to help troops see danger, before it sees them. ♪ to answer the call of the brave and bring them safely home. [ female announcer ] around the globe, the people of boeing are working together, to support and protect all who serve. that's why we're here. ♪ to challenge ourselves on the most demanding track in the world. with us, in spirit, was every great car that we'd ever competed with. the bmw m5. and the mercedes-benz e63. for it was their amazing abilities that pushed us to refine, improve and, ultimately,
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